Sometimes you just need to listen to what you are telling yourself.

Recently I worked with a client who had tried for years to grow her business without success. The aim for the business was to reach a point where she could either sell it or employ staff to run it for her, however the business revenue had remained at a constant level for some time.

She knew what she needed to achieve and why she needed to achieve it, but it just wasn’t happening. The client came to coaching because she hoped that it would help her to develop some new ideas that she hadn’t previously thought of.

As soon as we started our work together, ideas and actions just came pouring out. The client could list out in great detail the steps she needed to take to reach the targets she had set for the business.

The client had been stuck for so long, but it became clear very quickly that this was nothing to do with a shortage of ideas or business acumen. We honed in on two things:

  1. Her heart just wasn’t in it at that point. The way that she was currently operating in her leadership role within the business left her feeling bored and lacking in fulfilment. So she was avoiding doing what she knew needed to be done.
  2. She lacked confidence in herself to drive the business forward and feared ‘failure’. There was comfort and safety in coasting along, including a great work-life balance and a stable dynamic with her business partner. So pushing herself to do more with the business, and herself, was proving to be a challenge.

Our work helped the client to first and foremost listen to what she knew already: that it was her current mindset that was holding her back from growing the business and not that she didn’t have the business know-how.

With this new awareness she could stop feeling frustrated and start moving forward. We worked on:

  • Expanding the client’s leadership presence in the business. For example, by taking greater ownership for monitoring business performance, taking more time to engage personally with staff and publicly making leadership decisions without unnecessarily deferring to her business partner.
  • Redefining the structure of her business day so that she could concentrate on what needed to be done at times when she felt at her most productive.
  • Utilising her motivators. We identified that focussing on the lifestyle benefits of achieving the business goals made her put the hours in, even when some of the tasks weren’t inspiring her. We clearly defined both the payoff of achieving her business goals and the consequences of not doing so, regularly revisiting these throughout our work together.

The end result was that the client experienced a step change in her enthusiasm for leading the business, and this showed in the business performance. She admitted to ‘loving’ her job again and action bred more action. The business, in her words, was ‘booming’ and she was on track to achieving her revenue targets within the year.

What struck me about this example is that when we are feeling stuck, some or all of the answer is already within us. We just need to listen to what we are telling ourselves, even when we are saying something that we don’t really want to hear.

If we can do this, then we are in a better position to decide on the best way forward for us that aligns with our personal values, drivers and context, which ultimately leads to greater success and fulfilment in our careers.

What are you telling yourself that you really need to listen to?


Are you facing similar challenges?

If reading this article has resonated with a personal challenge, then you may benefit from working with an executive coach.  I offer a FREE complimentary coaching session to potential clients to try out coaching and help them decide if they would like to work with me.  Please get in touch to book your free session.


Sihem Bounoua is an Executive Coach and Founder of Rhapsody Leadership Development (, supporting medical leaders and other senior professionals to enhance their leadership impact, so that they can advance their career and achieve greater professional fulfilment.